Sunday, June 10, 2012

Connecting The Dots That Matter

Every entrepreneur desires to start and grow their business as fast as possible before anyone else has a chance to adopt their ideas or develop a plan to compete with them.  In the quest for success, we want to put our dreams in a microwave, set the timer, and voila! – a short time later you have an incredible growing business.

Businesses start and fail every day.  What will make your business different and give you the best chance for success?  Connecting with people.

Connecting goes beyond the exchange of business cards or casual talk about weather and sports.  Connecting is about valuing and adding value to others.  Connecting is about intentionality. You must be intentionally mindful to look for ways to connect with others as you go about your busy day.

Many think that connecting takes too much time and energy that could be spent on developing fast business growth.  Put two airplanes, a Cessna and a Boeing 747, at the same position on parallel runways and have them start down their respective runways at the same time.  At takeoff, the Cessna will be off the ground, landing gear up, and well on its way before the 747 has even gotten all wheels off of the ground.  However, eventually the 747 will overtake the Cessna, taking its passengers higher and farther than the Cessna could ever fly.  That’s what connecting does.  Yes, it takes time and energy at first, but it will take your business higher and farther than you can ever imagine without it.

The following are four key groups with whom you must connect if you plan to start, maintain, or grow your business in the long run.

Connect with your inner circle.
Get to know your trusted advisors and allow them to know you.  The quality of their investment, encouragement, and advice is directly proportional to the quality of your relationship with them.

Connect with your team.
Invest in your team - not just with money, but also with your ears and time.  Your team will be committed to you and your vision if they know you are committed to them.

Connect with your clients.
"How may I help you" should be on the forefront of your mind when relating to your clients.  If you seek to understand their needs first, you will have a better chance of providing the right service or product that they require. 

Connect with everyone else.
Everyone you meet is an opportunity to connect. You never know where that connection will lead.  

Leadership guru, John Maxwell states, “To add value to others, one must first value others.”  Connecting is not a technique or a manipulative tool for conducting business.  It is a lifestyle.  When you are genuinely interested in helping others, they will be genuinely interested in helping you.  Start connecting today.

You matter!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Next Chapter

Some have asked where I've been - why I have not written anything for so long.  Well, it is because I've been preparing for my next chapter.  I began this blog as an outlet to express my thoughts on leadership as I was completing my MBA at Concordia University.   I still have 6 months left till I graduate, however, that next chapter has already begun.

I have reflected over the past few years to try to understand what makes me "come alive" and I have committed myself to make sure that I am fully alive until I draw my very last breath.  By that, I mean that I am going to invest my time, energy, vocation, and life to the things that motivate me to be a better and growing person.  I have discovered that which makes me come alive is when I am intentionally adding value to others.  This discovery has led me to join and become certified (this August) as speaker, coach, and trainer with The John Maxwell Team.  Since last November I have been preparing and studying with The John Maxwell Team in parallel with my studies for my MBA.  So, to say the least, I have been a little busy - but a good kind of busy.  Hence, I have not stopped long enough to write here.

So, that leads me to inform you that following this entry, I will only be making one more entry into this blog.  I am in the process of creating a new blog and will post its address here when it is complete.  Meanwhile, my next post will give you the first look at what will be my first post on the new site.

Final Thought
We all have a next chapter in the book of our life.  Yesterday has already been written (and you can not change it), today is being written now, but tomorrow is a blank page.  What gets written in that next chapter will be dependent on your decisions today.  Discover today what makes you come alive.  If the previous chapters of your life story have not been following that path, know this - it is never too late to begin writing a new chapter.

You matter!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Be, Do, Have

This year has flown by so fast!  As the year comes to a close, naturally it becomes a time of reflection and a time of planning.  I look back on the year to reflect on the events, accomplishments, relationships and failures that I've experienced.  One of the ways I reflect is by popping the cork off our Answers and Blessings jars and reading the little slips of paper inside. Within these jars are the answers that we've written down to specific prayers and the blessings we've received of which we never asked.  It is a great reminder of God's involvement in our lives.

Another end of year assignment is to prepare my goals for the next year. I try to keep my goals simple, but specific.  They are centered around three major categories: Be, Do, Have.  
  • Who do I want to Be?  This does not imply that I want to be someone else, but rather means that I want to be the best ME that I can be.  For example, Godly man & husband, caring son, constant learner.
  • What do I want to Do?  This includes accomplishments, trips or activities with and for my wife and family.
  • What do I want to Have?  This is not what you would think.  It is not necessarily possessions, but it can best be described as what life looks like when I am BEing and DOing the things that I listed.  For example, a few things that I have for my 2011 list were: thriving business, satisfied clients, fulfilled & motivated employees, etc....
For each of those subcategories, I list specific actions that help me fulfill my be, do, have's if I am intentional and mindful about doing them.

Do you take the time to reflect on your year and plan for the next?  If so, what advice would you offer to someone on how to do it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Living Beyond the Dash

We have all likely experienced the passing of some family member or friend.  We've attended their funeral or memorial service which usually begins by stating when they were born and when they died.  At the grave site, their whole life is summarized by this simple little "-" between their birth and death date.

Perhaps you've heard someone speak of the concept of the "dash" or making the most of your dash, also known as making the most of your life. When you spend time in a cemetery, you realize just how short this life really can be.  We don't know when the day will come, but we do know that there will be a day that we will die.

You're probably thinking by now that this is going to be yet another post about making the most of your life. Well, not really.  If you're reading this, you're likely one who has already read, heard, or reflected on what you can do to make the most of this life.  So, I would like to take a couple more paragraphs and challenge you to live beyond the dashLive a life so invested in others that even with your physical passing from this life, there is a legacy that is lived out in those who you have invested your time, emotional and relational energy.

To live beyond the dash, you have to first embrace a period of introspection and reflect on a couple of meaningful questions:
  • Who am I, why am I here, what is my purpose/passion or what do I want to do with my life?
  • At the core, do I just want to "exist" or do I want to exalt others?
If you can get your mind around those questions, then consider the following for ideas on how to live beyond the dash.
  • Look for opportunities to encourage someone daily
  • Volunteer with a local non-profit organization - preferably one that aligns with your purpose/passion.
  • Mentor someone
  • Give sacrificially to a cause you that you believe
  • Babysit for a single parent
  • Adopt a child
  • Visit an ICU waiting room at a local hospital for a couple of hours and see how you could serve someone there (Big ears, long arms, or a shoulder to cry on)
  • Visit the nearest nursing home and engage a resident in conversation
  • and the list goes on..........
The point, the life that lives beyond the dash is a life that is "others focused".  Can you do that? YES, you can!  Will you do that? Only you can answer.

Would love to know your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Landmarks Along the Journey

Image from:
For most road trips that I've been on, it has been all about the final destination.  We get in our car and take the shortest possible route that gets us to that final destination in the shortest amount of time.  We only stop when "nature calls", to eat, or refill the gas in our cars.  Many times, to be most efficient, we try to do all three at once.  We start at point A and drive like mad to get to point B - leaving everything in between a blur never noticing any of the history-rich landmarks.

The same can be said about our life.  For many, point A & B are waking each day and going to sleep at night and just as a road trip, everything in between is a blur.  There are so many landmarks in our day that are full of rich and meaningful experiences if we will just be intentional, mindful, and present in the moments of our days.

Yes, life is a journey.  Life began at our birth and this physical life will end with our death.  But, what are you doing to enjoy the journey, to savor the relevance of life, or to add value to someone's life?  I have found that the margin in my life has become really thin with business, school, and family.  If I am not cognizant of the journey, I am really going to miss out on so much beauty along the way.

As I thought about ways that I could be more intentional, I've come up with some questions that I ask myself on a daily, but mostly weekly basis.  I encourage you to consider doing the same or similar.

Pick a day each week and on that day ask yourself the following question about your previous 7 days:
  1. Did I have any meaningful conversations, relational events, service projects, or "landmarks" occur this week?
  2. Was there anything that made me "come alive" this week? What was it about it? Is there a pattern developing of answers to this question as the weeks/months pass?  (Don't ignore this pattern)
  3. Big or small, how have I made a difference in someone's life this week?
  4. Big or small, how has someone made a difference in my life this week? (thank them)
  5. How can I be intentional about enjoying the journey over the next week?
What are you doing to enjoy your journey?  Would love to have your suggestions.  Please share!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Last Thought on Change

Me: Then and Now
I've just spent the week visiting my mother in Mississippi.  While visiting this small town, just as other times, I bump into people that I knew from my childhood.  I tend to project upon each person the same attributes, qualities, and personality that I knew they had when we were kids.  All too often, I believe that we do that to everyone we've known.

As I pondered that thought, I revisited my last post on change, "That Same Man in the Moon".  The point of the post was to remember that even though that same moon that I've looked at my whole life has remain unchanged, I have not.  I have changed considerably.......and so has everyone else.

We've all experienced great joys and sorrows, victories and losses, new friendships, influential books, jobs, etc.  There have been many catalysts of change in our lives - good and bad.  Very few, if not anyone remains the same.

So, whether you're seeing someone from your childhood or a friend you've not seen in a couple of years, realize that more than likely they've changed.....just as you have changed.  They are not the same person they were.  Use that chance meeting as an opportunity to know a new person - a changed person.  You just might be blessed by the new friend that they become.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

That Same "Man in the Moon"

Last night, I was outside staring up at the moon and took note of the Man in the Moon.  I thought of how, as a child,  I looked up in amazement at the beauty of that same moon - that same Man in the Moon.  And that's just it, it is still that same Man in the Moon...BUT...I'm not the same man that I was at that age.

Isn't it amazing that we can look back to our childhood, the way we thought and acted, and unequivocally state that we are definitely not that same person.  I think of my college years when I experienced tremendous growth physically, emotionally, and spiritually; but yet, I am not the same person.

Twenty-two years ago I moved to Austin, not knowing anyone, and began a new chapter - a new road on this journey of my life. I grew so much as I struggled to work out my finances and to understand what I really wanted to do with my life.  And yet, I'm not that same person.

On and on, year after year, I can look back and see what has transpired the years before - sometimes even months before, and conclude that I am not that same person.

So, what's the point of this little thought?  Glad you asked. :-)

The point is:
If we're growing - we're changing.  Daily growth leads to life change.

We are not the same person we were as a child.  We are not the same person we were ten years, five years, or even one year ago. I find myself changing on a weekly basis, albeit ever so slightly, but still changing.

My wish is that we can all say, "the person that I was when I woke up this morning is a better person that is going to bed this evening all because of change, growth, experience, conversations, etc."

Do you find yourself to be a slightly different person than you were last week?  Please share your thoughts.